Always look on the bright side of life..

The Magician
And what better way, than to download the new Tester Types E-Book.

Its a light hearted look at some of the types of testers out there and I guess we could all do with a bit of a laugh now and then.

I big hearty thanks to Rob Lambert and Rosie Sherry for writing and putting this together.

So, why not download it, grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy a read.

Oh and Happy New Year to you all.

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Holding the cat by the tail

I thought Jack Margo’s interview by UTest was very interesting. What caught my eye was the following statement:

The days of specialists are mostly killed from the recession…you have to be flexible and know multiple disciplines to exist in today’s dev environment.  In web development alone, you need to be proficient with XML, DHTML, JS, a DB flavor, an OS flavor, a programming language and some semblance of UI Design to even handle front-end.  I have friends who knew only HTML or only PERL.  They are struggling to say the least

It made me think  the same applies to us as software testers.

Have specialists in software testing being killed by the recession? Is it necessary for software testers to be ‘flexible’ and know ‘multiple disciplines’?

Personally, I think so. Its not good enough these days to be a ‘manual tester’ or an ‘automated tester’. Instead you need to be able to do both. I don’t think that means you have to be ‘expert’ on both, but it does mean you have to have knowledge of both and a good knowledge in one area.

That’s why I’m excited about Nathan Bain and the free automated testing sessions he’s starting up.  As he puts it:

Come to meet fellow testers, share stories and experiences about tools and techniques which may, or may not, have solved testing problems on other Agile projects.

This is also a place of learning, where live demonstrations of tools will be given for FREE – no more expensive training courses for simple (and free) open-source testing tools.

What a fantastic opportunity to learn about automated testing!

To complement this, Rob Lambert has setup some free Exploratory Testing Sessions.

Both organisers have mentioned that these sessions could also be performed online.

I am not going to miss out on either opportunities. I would encourage those interested to sign up to both, either to contribute so others can learn, or learn from someone else.

BTW: two quotes were in contest to head this post. The first one was by Mahatma Gandhi:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

The other was:

“If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”

Mark Twain

I love both for different reasons, but I thought the second one appealed to me as a tester, hence the title 🙂

BlogRoll startups

Test Tools for Covert Operations

I have one of my clients to thank for this tip.
I was performing some software testing recently on a product that had both a software and hardware element to it. The unique setup of the laptop, and  peripheral equipment meant I that there was only one test environment available.  I was fortunate not to live to far away, but the developer lived in England and so would have to upload any fixes and new versions remotely.

The client insisted we use LogMeIn for the remote access.

Now, I like my software test environment to be stable at least for some fixed period. That way, I know that I’m not testing a moving target.

So when I heard that both the developer and I were to have remote access, I was a bit concerned as the developer  could upgrade software at any time without telling me.

Then I had a stroke of luck.

As any tester worth their salt would do, I immediately started checking out the LogMeIn software. I noticed that under Preferences, there was an Advanced Settings. So, I clicked on that.  To my delight, I found a ‘Screen Record’ option which allowed be to enable recording of anything that happens on the remote machine.

To a control freak like me, this was complete heaven. It was a way to not only know if an upgrade occurred, but also I could learn how the developer ‘tweeked’ the system.

I did at times feel like I was on some covert operation until I fessed up and told him I had it enabled.

Anyhow, if you ever in the same situation where perhaps your developer is not the most communicative, I heartily recommend you look at this free application.


Pre Software Testing Checklist for Startups

Most Startups will not use large amounts of documentation unless it adds value. In an environment where the one thing you can rely on is change, sometimes it doesn’t pay to put too much detail down in formal software test plans. That’s why I am in such a fan of checklists. A software test checklist is like a cheatsheet for testers. It’s a list of reminders to make sure you’ve covered all the basics. Nothing fancy, I prefer a one sheet, but I’ve seen checklists two or three pages long.
Lots of people in software testing loves checklists. It’s our way of ensuring we don’t forget stuff, well at least that’s why I use them. They work really well with Startups who either don’t have the time, need or inclination to load themselves down with lots of methodologies and process.

The first checklist that I am in favour of handing to my Startup clients is the Pre Assignment checklist. My Pre Assignment Software Testing Checklist provides Startups with a list of essential to do items. Most of my Startup work is short assignments between 3 ~ 5 days as time and budget are limited. So, if they can’t supply these things before I start, I politely suggest that they’re wasting my time and their money.

The assumption in this checklist is that I’m software testing on-site and the assignment is a short term one. Otherwise some of this stuff I would be responsible for. For long term assignments part of these may be written into the software testing assignment.

So here it is in its full glory with added explanations for clarity.

Pre Assignment Software Testing Checklist

Software Test Goals

  • What do you want to get out of the software test effort?

Confidence, Knowledge? Software that works better? The sheer nature of software testing means that a software tester can provide you lots of  interesting information apart from bugs found.

For example, if it’s knowledge,  A software tester can collect lots of data on performance and reliability which may be helpful in marketing your product.

SoftwareTest Reporting

  • Who is going to see this report?

A good software tester can write the same information differently depending on who is going to read the report. For example, you may want a report written in word format for business purposes. If its a developer, then perhaps they have a favourite defect tracking tool they want to use.

  • What sort of reporting do you want?

How often do you want a software tester to update you? Daily, Weekly or just at the end?

Test Strategy

  • Do you have a long term software testing strategy in mind?
    Perhaps you wish to automate your testing in the future, or you want to introduce a process, if you let the software tester know up front, they can perhaps include some structure for you to keep once the software testing is complete.

Software Test environment

  • Determine the Software Test Environment
    Has a decision been made on the system requirements? Software Testing ought to use this as the default test environment. Make some decisions on the following:

    • Operating System
    • Browser
    • Printer
    • Machine
    • Any other supporting software

Don’t forget to decide on a version number for the software

  • Assign Machine
    The developer’s machine won’t do, sorry. You might have a machine in mind, but have:

    • Started it up recently?
    • Made sure no-one else is using it?
    • Does it require updating?

My point is don’t assume that the box you have earmarked is available.

  • Setup Software Test Environment
    I know it works fine on your machine, but its worth ensuring it installs on the test machine.

    • Install all the support software the system needs
    • Install the correct version of the support software
    • DO NOT install the product to be tested if installation and configuration is to be tested
  • Test the Setup
    Start up the software that has been installed to make sure it works properly

Finally and maybe most importantly!

Software Test Support


  • support by development is available to support the tester
    Don’t give the developer a two week holiday for working so hard to complete the software on time. He still needs to support the tester when bugs are found
  • IT support is available if necessary
    If your luck enough to have an IT team, make them aware of the software testing work that is going on and ensure someone is there to help if necessary

This type of work is often overlooked in the eagerness to get the testing started. If you want you’re software testing to start on time and keeping within budget than completing this software testing checklist is essential.

Here’s a link to a scaled down version. Pre-Assignment Software Testing checklist. Feel free to download it, but please leave the reference to Testing Times in either the header or footer.


YouTrack, a new issue tracking tool

I noticed that there is a new bug tracking application on the scene. It’s called YouTrack and describes it self as:
“web-based, keyboard-centric issue tracker” and

“The Fastest Bug and Issue Tracker”
“Wow”! Sounds like just the tool for a Maverick Tester!  I’ve been on the hunt for a decent bug tracker for my website, so I thought I would try this one out.

The download and install was true to its word, it was fast and immediately a login page appeared in my browser. Fantastic! I had spent many hours installing  TRAC and in comparison this was a cinch!


I’m now the proud owner of YouTrack on my laptop.

There’s a few things seem nice, one is the use of tags and the ability to create users under projects only, which will be handy for me as I don’t want my clients to be able to see other project content.

I did have a grin at the roles though, there was admin, developer (of course), observer (??) and reporter (?!). I think that we testers will fall under the “reporter” role.

This application is under Beta, and JetBrains are asking for people to raise bugs as they see it. Hopefully, the beta testing is a bit more successful than Joe Stump, of (see Elizabeth’s Hendricksons great  post on this).  Or  they have performed some solid system testing (by their “reporter” )prior to this beta release.

I’m going to try and install it on my web server in the next two days, and I intend to use it for a current client I have.

The major downside I see to YouTrack is the fact that it’s only a temporary license. I don’t want to invest large amounts of energy into a product that turns out to be excessively expensive. For startup’s TRAC or Bugzilla which is opensource may still be more worthwhile.

Anyone else used YouTrack?


Software Testing & Startups Talk in Dublin and Belfast

If anyone is interested there will be a softtest event this month (May) in Dublin and Belfast. I am giving a talk on software testing and startups.
Here’s the abstract

Software Testing in the world of Start Ups

This presentation offers a glimpse into software testing in the world of startups. It looks at the constraints and benefits facing software testers in this unique environment. It examines what it takes to be a software tester in a startup.

It will also be a bit of a myth buster session, looking at some of the myths around testing in startups. It closes by asking are we as a software testing industry doing enough to help startups improve their software.


Belfast : 26/05/09 4.30 pm, Venue is the Radisson SAS. To register your attendance email Nicola.McManus at

Dublin: 27/05/09 4.30 pm, Venue is the Holiday Inn, Pearse Street. To register your attendance email Anna.Donegan at


16:30 – 17:00 Registration

17:00 – 18:00 Professionalism in Testing, John McArdle

18:00 – 19:00 Software Testing in the World of Start Ups, Anne- Marie Charrett, Testing Times

19:00 Close

I think you might need to be a member of softtest which is free, go to the softtest website for more information

I lookforward to seeing you there!

User Group

Date set for Dublin Software Testers Meetup

Put the 16th of June into your diary. Is the inaugural meetup for the Dublin Software testers.
The venue is the Library Bar, Central Hotel, Exchequer Street. Its on the first floor. Time is from 7.30 pm
This is a social event for software testers, a chance to get together and chat. You can talk testing, or not. For more information go to the software testing club events page.

If you want to visit and join the online version of the group, go to the software testing club.Its free to join, has over 3000 members and is a great online source of information and assistance.

I look forward to meeting you all online and in person!

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Dublin Software Testing Group

Online networks are great for sharing knowledge and meeting fellow testers. In particular, I am a fan of  the software testing club . However, even better is a face to face meet.
Thats why I’m setting up a Dublin monthly software testers group. The aim is to meetup and talk about, well anything you fancy. To quote a member: “a get together to give out about our unfeeling brethern in the rest of the IT world and a few pints for good measure. What more could you ask for?

If you’re interested in attending, leave a comment here, or go to the online version of the group at Irish Software Testers Group
Looking forward to meeting you online and in person